Leif Ove Andsnes

Grieg: Piano Concerto; 6 Lyric Pieces; Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 2

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This 1990 disc featuring Grieg's Piano Concerto and Liszt's Second Piano Concerto, with six of Grieg's Lyric Pieces for solo piano, was Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes' big label debut as a soloist. It was a smash, and, as the saying goes, the rest is history. Andsnes has gone on to one of the most successful careers of any pianist of his generation. Hearing the performances in this un-remastered reissue, it's easy to understand why: Andsnes is a fire-eater of a piano player. His tone is blazing, his temperament is choleric, his technique is fiery, and his interpretations incandescent. From the first crashing chords of Grieg's concerto to the ecstatic double octaves of Wedding Day at Troldhaugen, Andsnes proves himself a charismatic pianist of heroic cast. Yet as the central Adagio of Grieg's concerto and the opening of Liszt's concerto show, Andsnes is also a poet of the piano, and the nuanced tenderness and long-lined lyricism of his playing match Richter at his best. Dmitri Kitayenko and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra provide him with strong-willed yet sympathetic support, and Virgin Classics provides a "live" yet well-modulated digital acoustic. Anyone who enjoys great piano playing should appreciate this disc.

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